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Moving to Seattle, WA: Relocating Tips, Advice & Guide

Moving to Seattle, WA? We've got all the info, tips and advice you'll need in this moving guide.

If you're relocating to Seattle and will be looking for an apartment, then you've come to the right place. Full disclosure, this article is really geared towards anyone who will be looking to rent an apartment in Seattle. This moving guide offers some insights on planning and executing your move and will direct you to some other helpful resources that can assist as well. I hope it helps!

moving to seattle

Image source: BuzzFeed

1. Costs are a bit high but not too bad.

Moving to Seattle, Washington, can be alarmingly expensive, depending on where you’re coming from. The overall cost of living in Seattle is 24 percent higher than the national average. Rent prices average $1,959 per month. That being said, you’ll likely be pleased if you’re coming from other major metropolises like Boston or New York City. If you’re not, take the time to build a budget before you go.

moving to seattle

2. Apartment-finding is a bit of a chore.

The city estimates that half of its population is made of renters, and the area’s population is exploding as big companies like Amazon expand. The city of Seattle has had a hard time dealing with such fast swings in housing needs. Builders can’t seem to keep up with the need for close-by apartment buildings, condos, and housing areas.

While you may find a good listing on websites like Craigslist, many are now turning to rental agents who can provide apartment-hunting services for when you move to Seattle. Take your time, expect a long application process, and contact a broker like Jumpshell if you need help with finding an apartment in Seattle.

moving to seattle

3. There are lots of laws that favor renters to keep in mind when you move in.

When moving to Seattle, Washington, most first-time visitors won’t be aware of this:

Look at the terms of your lease. The city requires "just cause" eviction, meaning that if you are in the middle of a lease, your landlord can evict you only for one of 18 specific reasons (such as not paying your rent).

When and if you pay a security deposit, get documentation. You’re entitled to a checklist outlining the unit’s conditions and a written receipt.

Landlords can’t indiscriminately raise prices without notifying you. If your rent is going up more than 10 percent within a year, you are entitled to a 60-day written notice. That includes all housing costs: rent, parking, storage, and utilities when it applies.

It’s illegal to profit from tenant screening or charge move-in fees. Some landlords charge a fee for screening (including background checks). They must give written notice of what the screening entails and only charge the actual cost of the screening. Deposits are refundable and can be charged, but non-refundable moving fees are not.

There are strict laws against certain behaviors that are common elsewhere. Landlords can’t change locks, stop utilities, or remove furniture without cause. Unless they’ve gotten your consent after giving two days’ notice, or unless it’s an emergency, they cannot enter your apartment.

4. Public transportation takes time but is easier to use than many other cities.

Getting around is not as difficult as people whine about, and the monorail is actually pretty fun. Busses (the King County Metro specifically) are locals’ least favorite way to travel, many preferring the streetcar, light rail, Sounder train, or monorail. Some people even travel by ferry every day. When relocating to Seattle, you’ll want to find a commute that’s easy and stress-free, and public transportation should be considered. Seattle is often ranked in the top ten for cities with the best public transportation in America. Note that some neighborhoods are also more bike-able and walkable than others.

5. There are a lot of big-name companies here.

This is famously the home of Amazon and Starbucks, but more and more companies are finding a home in the city. There are plenty of jobs here; the unemployment rate in 2015 was 3.3 percent, which was far lower than the national average of 5.5 percent. One might not expect to see so many tech companies outside of Silicon Valley, but here they are.

6. Yes, it rains a lot.

It really does. Yes, the facts are that it may rain more in other places, but it’s more about those overcast skies. Don’t be surprised if you’re feeling the blues in mid-November. Also, those who need to move to Seattle should know that the city itself is a bit isolated. Getting visitors to travel there is difficult because of the airfare costs and remoteness.

7. Prepare for some culture shock.

Seattle is such a strange blend of hippie and high-tech, with plenty of nerd love to go around. Seattle locals love coffee, and they love sports. Coming from someplace like Dallas may be a bit bizarre, especially when one moves to a neighborhood like Ballard and encounters such unexpected hipsterness in droves. And when you go to Fremont and see a statue of Lenin, you might reel for a moment. But if you take the time to embrace recycling, bike lanes, and beer, you’ll be sure to have a lot of fun here.

Other Tips

Internet: When you’re looking to get online, know that the major options are CenturyLink and Xfinity. Comcast and Interconnection also have a presence here.

News: You can find the local news on KING5, KOMO 4 TV, KIRO 7 News, and Q13 FOX. The major newspapers include the Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and The Stranger.

Groceries: Many locals shop at Safeway, QFC, Albertsons, PCC Natural Markets, Metropolitan Market, Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. Specialty or local markets like Uwajimaya or Ballard Town & County Market are a big deal here, too. Don’t be afraid of the local markets like the touristy Pike’s Place as well.

Movers: There are a lot of great local moving companies here to help you transition, including Incredible Movers, Redmond Movers, Local Moving Helpers, and Moving Mass, to only name a few.

how to find an apartment in seattle

We hope this Seattle relocation guide can help you adjust quickly and effectively. Contact an expert local rental agent for more tips!

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